Wakarusa wakes up Columbia's electronic music scene

Electronic DJs will battle their way to the Interstellar stage Thursday.

Spencer Pearson / Graphic Designer

Columbia DJs are scouring the city for new fans this week in an effort to make it to the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival in Ozark, Ark.

DJs Marvin Gardens, Cidlix, Abe Froman and Alpaca and Yvan Carr-chua will battle for votes in a competition Thursday at Mojo's, and the DJ with the most audience support will win a slot at the Wakarusa Interstellar Meltdown, the electronic portion of the three-day festival.

The festival will see a larger electronic lineup than ever before with more than 50 acts from around the world. Two late night tents at the festival promise to have audiences dancing the night away.

Thursday night's competitors hope to have their fans doing just that, as the prize slot at Wakarusa could mean the opportunity to exponentially increase their fan base to include electronic music enthusiasts across the country.

"It's a great opportunity to directly reach the Midwest electronic scene and network with fellow electronic musicians," said Alpaca, who was born Drew Wilson.

Because the winner is based on crowd voting, the stakes rest largely in advertising. The DJs are spending the days leading up to the battle hanging fliers, calling friends and sharing their tunes with as many people as possible in an effort to fill Mojo's with voters likely to support them.

Wilson plans to see his way to the Interstellar stage by filling up Mojo's with his fans and "blowing them away" with his set.

DJ Abe Froman, born Andy Gaskins, said it's all about crowd control, build-up and "an epic intro."

"If you can get the whole crowd moving, it's a sight to see," Gaskins said.

Gaskins looks forward to the chance to share a stage with some big names in the electronic music scene.

"(The winner) is going to be playing alongside acts like Bassnectar and Mimosa," Gaskin said. "It's a huge step for any electronic DJ."

The Interstellar stage will see 25 headliners from varying subgenres within the ever-evolving genre of electronic music. Thursday's competition will bring fans a survey of these styles with every competitor performing in a different subgenre.

Austin Goldberg, born Marvin Gardens, an unsigned DJ from Kansas City, specializes in disco house and funk, genres with roots in soul, rhythm and blues and psychedelic rock. Goldberg listed influences such as Michael Jackson, Midnight Star and George Duke.

Froman plays dubstep, a style characterized by a two-step rhythm and a heavy emphasis on bass, often creating a darker sound.

Clayton Shannon and John Lightner make up the act Cidlix. The duo performs in drum and bass style, a style with fast breakbeats and heavy bass. Cidlix also lists electro, breaks, psychedelic and dubstep influences in its sound.

Alpaca will team up with DJ Yvan Carr-chua to bring fans an eclectic sound, comprised of breaks, glitch, hop and dubstep influences.

Regardless of Thursday's result, the Wakarusa stage will see at least one Columbia musician this year, a huge step for the rapidly growing Columbia electronic scene.

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